The United States women’s water polo team, defending Olympic champions from both London and Rio, handily defeated Japan, 25-4, in the first of four preliminary round games.
Maggie Steffens and Stefania Haralabidis led all U.S. goal scorers with five each as nine Americans contributed goals. Steffens raised her career Olympic goals total to 42. She now needs just six goals to overtake Tania Di Mario of Italy as the all-time top goal scorer in Olympic women’s water polo history.
Japan, competing in its first Olympic tournament, got off to an encouraging start in the first quarter, drawing level with the U.S. at 3-3. From that point on, though, the world’s top-ranked team took total control.
The U.S. scored 13 unanswered goals to close out the first half. Goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson kept a perfect second quarter, saving every Japanese shot on her net. She finished the game with 15 total saves on 19 attempts.
Japan scored just once in the second half as the U.S. piled on the offense to get its Group B campaign started with momentum.
The United States next takes on China on Monday at the Tatsumi Water Polo Center.